KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The coldest conditions any Miami team has played in couldn't stop these history-making Dolphins.
Thriving in mind-numbing frigidity, Chad Pennington threw three touchdown passes yesterday in a 38-31 victory over Kansas City that continued one of the most remarkable comeback seasons in NFL history.
A year after going 1-15, the Dolphins can clinch the AFC East next weekend by beating the New York Jets, the team that cast Pennington aside when it acquired Brett Favre.
"This is the only way fate would have it, right?" Pennington said. "I just don't think it would happen any other way. There wouldn't be any other scenario. This is how sports works."
The Dolphins (10-5) became the first team to win 10 games after winning just one the previous season, but needed a 14-point fourth quarter after Kansas City (2-13) took a 31-24 lead late in the third.
The temperature at the noon kickoff was 10 degrees with a wind chill of minus-12, the coldest conditions the Dolphins have ever played in. No doubt it was even icier when Pennington engineered a 13-play, 85-yard drive capped by his tiebreaking 14-yard TD pass to Anthony Fasano with 4 minutes, 8 seconds left.
"Right now, [the drive] is a blur," Pennington said. "It was so cold, my brain is not working real well. I can just remember time after time it was somebody making a play, breaking a tackle, making a catch, making a big block, making play after play to keep the drive going."
It was the second-coldest game played at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs (2-13) concluded the home portion of the worst season in the 49-year history of the franchise. In their last 24 games, the Chiefs are 2-22.
"You play for pride as a football player and as a human being," Chiefs linebacker Rocky Boiman said.
After quickly falling behind by 10-0, when the Dolphins scored on their first play from scrimmage, the Chiefs fought back and took a 28-24 halftime lead.
"This game didn't start off real well, but the way they fought back says a lot about who they are, and their character," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said.
It was the fourth victory in a row and eighth in nine games for the Dolphins, whose previously coldest game was 14 degrees at Foxborough, Mass., on Dec. 11, 1977.
"The biggest thing was trying to keep your fingers from going numb," Dolphins running back Ricky Williams said.
A Miami defense that hadn't yielded a touchdown in three weeks gave up four TDs and a season-high 492 yards to the Chiefs, who finish their miserable season next week at Cincinnati. Tyler Thigpen threw for a career-best 320 yards and had two touchdowns, but also three interceptions.
Pennington was 26 of 34 in the brutal cold, including two TD tosses to Fasano.
After Connor Barth's 24-yard field goal put the Chiefs on top by 31-24 in the third quarter, Williams' 4-yard TD run tied it 31-all. Then Pennington took the Dolphins on the winning drive.